Friday, November 16, 2007

Shot man jailed following siege

Shot man jailed following siege

A man shot in the stomach by police after he threatened to kill officers the day following his mother's death has been jailed for two years.
Brinley Watkins, 56, of Rassau, Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, was said to have been consumed by alcohol and grief.

Stripped to the waist, he pointed a handgun at armed officers and at a neighbour, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

He admitted making threats to kill and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear or violence.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is still investigating the shooting, which happened in June.

The court heard how in the four years beforehand, Watkins had suffered a number of family bereavements, including the death of his son, wife and father.

The day before the shooting, his mother had also died.

Watkins had been drinking on the day with his siblings following a meeting to arrange their mother's funeral and he later argued with his son.

Hywel Hughes, prosecuting, said later that day Watkins's neighbour, Janelle Thomas, called to ask him to move his car, which was blocking the road.

He replied: "The street is in siege, and nobody is to come in or out," before pointing his airgun at her.

Watkins then spoke with a 999 operator and repeatedly said he was going to kill some police officers, the court heard.

"He said: 'I've got a gun and I will blow their heads off'," said Mr Hughes.

"He added that he was the 'avenger' and said: 'I've got a .45 calibre weapon in my hand and I'm prepared to use it'."

'Pressure pot'

Armed police officers went to the scene and the nearby busy A465 heads of the valleys road was closed.

As armed officers took up their position outside his house, he was seen in an upstairs window swearing at officers, the court was told.

Shortly after Watkins ran out of the house and raised his airgun in a double-handed pose and aimed it at the police, Mr Hughes said.

Police fired a single shot at him which went into his abdomen and exited through his back.

He is a man in need of help from professionals and not cellmates

Michael Jones, defending Watkins

He was taken to Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny for emergency surgery where his spleen was removed.

Michael Jones, defending, said his client had been struggling to cope with the death of his son Richard in November, 2003 in a car accident.

"This is yet another tragedy in the life of Brinley Watkins over the last four years or so," he said.

He said following the death of his son, his father died a year later and then his wife of 30 years died.

"Over the last two years there has been a pressure pot boiling up within Mr Watkins," said the lawyer.

He said Watkins wanted to apologise to Mrs Thomas, the 999 operator and the police marksmen for his behaviour on the night.

"He is a man who at this stage in his life, is desperately in need of help," he said. "He is a man in need of help from professionals and not cellmates."

But Judge Patrick Curran QC said: "These offences are so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence can be justified.

"Use of a firearm, whether they be real or imitation, to strike fear into others is a matter of real concern in society today.

"It is part of an increasing and dangerous culture which the courts have a duty to discourage and deter."


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